Boost for pre-nups as 'career divorcee' drops bid to win share of husband's £45m fortune
The credibility of pre-nuptial agreements was given a boost today after a woman dubbed a "career divorcee" dropped out of a £45 million divorce case seen as a test for the contracts.
Stuart Crossley had been set to tell the High Court today that his wife Susan should be bound by their pre-nup.
But at the last moment Mrs Crossley, who denies his claim that she is a "career divorcee", dropped her claims against her 62-year-old husband and today's case - eagerly awaited by lawyers as a defining moment for the validity of pre-nups - did not go ahead.
Prior to their 2006 marriage, the couple had taken legal advice before agreeing that they would not seek a share of the other's assets if their marriage ended.
The test case for the pre-nup was given the go-ahead by judges at the Court of Appeal, who rejected Mrs Crossley's claim that the contract was invalid and she should be able to go through the normal, lengthy divorce court procedure. (i.e. this woman - with a history of gold-digging - thinks she has the right to tear-up contracts when it suits her)
After the separation Mrs Crossley, 50, had claimed a share of husband Stuart's £45 million fortune to add to the £18 million she received after her three previous divorces - one to polo millionaire Robert Sangster. (so shes already rich through sucking money off other men, yet she sees it as her 'right' to even more of another person's money. This is not some poor women just fighting for a modest amount to live on, this is a greedy woman who'se already set up for life courtesy of her previous victims)
Born Susan Dean, the former model had previously been married to Kevin Nicholson, whose family founded the Kwik Save supermarket chain, and Peter Lilley, the adopted son of Lilley and Skinner shoes chief Thomas Lilley. (Funny how she always ends up with rich men, isn't it? If I was cynical I'd almost suspect there is a pattern going on here).
Mrs Crossley took her case to the Court of Appeal after Mr Justice Bennett - also the judge in the Sir Paul McCartney/Heather Mills divorce battle - agreed to short-circuit procedures because the Crossleys were only married for 14 months, had independent wealth but no children, and had signed the agreement.
Lord Justice Thorpe, giving the appeal court ruling in December, said: "If ever there is to be a paradigm case in which the courts will look to the pre-nuptial agreement as not simply one of the peripheral factors of the case but a factor of magnetic importance, then it seems to me that this is such a case."
Family lawyers had been expecting clarification from today's hearing on whether pre-nups should be made legally binding in English and Welsh law, as they are in the US.
Suzanne Kingston, head of family law at Dawsons Solicitors, said: "We had hoped that the Crossley case would give us judicial guidance about the enforceability of pre-nups.
"However, given that Mrs Crossley has decided to adhere to the terms of the pre-nup and taking on board the comments made by the Court of Appeal in December, it is likely that courts may be pretty robust when looking at pre-nups in certain circumstances.
"Those sorts of circumstances will be where both parties are properly legally advised, where there has been disclosure of the financial asset base, where there has been no pressure or duress to sign the pre-nup and, in particular, in circumstances where there is a short marriage and no children." (so even if you have a pre-nup, if you've been married over a certain - currently unspecified - length of time, the judge can still seek to null it.)
Ms Kingston added: "This case will almost certainly mean that it is appropriate for wealthier couples to consider now whether a pre-nup would be sensible in their case and to take at least preliminary legal advice on whether or not to have one drafted." (advice, advice, advice.... remember the whole game is always about feeding the lawyers more money)
She said there have been calls from the legal profession for pre-nups to be given proper statutory recognition, making them enforceable and binding.
London is now the world's divorce capital, with wives achieving far higher awards than they could expect elsewhere.
As Sir Paul McCartney and Heather Mills negotiate over their settlement, divorce lawyers say that a pre-nuptial agreement might insure others against costly litigation.
But Marilyn Stowe, dubbed the Barracuda, who specialises in big money divorce cases, said legal acceptance of the pre-nup would be a disaster. (Barracuda? I think the term 'vulture' would be more appropriate. And a quick google around her name revealed this article, which makes her philosophy and sympathies quite clear.)
"I have come across many pre-nuptial agreements in the past, made in other countries - and their terms are usually grossly unfair to the poorer spouse," she said. (such as the career divorcee above who is worth £18million. Yes, technically she is the 'poorer' spouse when compared to her wealthy husband. The difference is though, that he has made his money by providing value to society, she has made her money through, well... a certain part of her anatomy, basically. And I don't mean her brain).
"Fortunately, I am not sure that our Government has the will or wherewithal to bring in a contentious law that would probably only ever benefit the very rich."(Why would it only 'benefit' the very rich? Why shouldn't any man with assets be allowed to give himself some level of protection? And, anyway, even aside from that, why SHOULDN'T rich men be protected by the law? Its like saying 'Theres no need for stealing luxury sports cars to be considered criminal, because this would only benefit the very rich." The law should be about impartial justice for all, not emotive 'payback' for those jealous of the rich and wanting to 'stick it' to them. Especially if they are men).